Dr. David Gersten is nationally recognized for his work in Integrative Psychiatry and Nutritional Medicine. For more than 35 years his clinical work has integrated the best of conventional medicine and the best of complementary and alternative medicine.
MENTAL IMAGERY AND THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION
During his formal training, Dr. Gersten began searching for better ways to help his patients. He first used mental imagery techniques in 1976 during his second year of his residency and helped a man with multiple sclerosis heal three bedsores that were three inches deep and that had defied nine months of hospital treatment. He soon incorporated mental imagery and meditation techniques as a routine part of his work. This early success in using mental fitness techniques to heal mind and body left a deep and lasting impression. In 1988, Dr. Gersten began to publish Atlantis The Imagery Newsletter, which had grown out of his love and respect for the power of mental imagery to assist in numerous mental and physical problems, to empower peak performance, and tap the power of the MindBody connection.
AMINO ACID THERAPY
In 1982, he began testing patients for amino acid blood levels. At the time, his intention was to accelerate healing from anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress - based on the knowledge that almost every neurotransmitter is made up of amino acids.
Partly due to his own severe case of CFS/ME, he explored the world's healthcare systems...without much luck. His own CFS/ME began to turn around when he tested himself for amino acids and put himself on a program of nutritional supplementation. The rest is history in terms of his recovery. Eventually, he built www.aminoacidpower.com, one of the largest Internet sites about amino acid therapy. Over the years, he slowly added one nutritional test after another, eventually reaching the current baseline lab testing that he orders. His success rate with CFS/ME has been 80% with a 40% cure rate. In other words, 80% are helped and half of those are cured.
THE SPIRIT FACTOR
There have been several parallel lines of development in Dr. Gersten's thinking and clinical work. While he was developing his skills in mental imagery and meditation techniques, he was studying the impact of spirituality in his patients' lives. This study culminated in the writing of his book "Are You Getting Enlightened Or Losing Your Mind?" first published by Harmony Books in 1997. His book is an attempt to integrate psychiatry and spirituality and to develop an addition to standard psychiatric diagnosis to include spiritual and paranormal experience, and how they differ from mental illness. Issues related to spirituality, personal belief systems, and the meaning of a person's illness are part of his evaluation of every patient.
WHAT IS MISSING IN MEDICAL TRAINING?
During medical school, Dr. Gersten had a single 2-hour lecture about nutrition. Nutrition is the first major lack in medical training. Spirituality is the second major lack in medical training. The MindBody connection is the third lack. Sexuality is the fourth. Understanding the MindBody connection began with his exploration of mental imagery and deepened with the therapeutic use of meditation, use of the breath and a host of mental fitness techniques. Nutrition/amino acid therapy is food for the body. Spirituality is food for the soul, and sexuality is food for intimate relationships. These are important areas that Dr. Gersten. tackled and eventually integrated into a coherent whole in clinical practice. Many medical schools have dramatically improved their teaching of some of these four areas.
His study and clinical use of amino acid therapy, mind-body techniques, and spirituality led him to a new realization. It is not only the sick and ailing who can benefit from these modalities. “Normal” people and those aspiring to greatness and wellness can also benefit from peak nutrition and mental fitness training. Because of this realization, Dr. Gersten has been working with athletes and CEO's of companies, in addition. If a world-class athlete like Olympic Gold Medalist Brian Boytano felt that he was physically ready for the Gold two years before he was mentally ready, the rest of us should pay attention. Dr. Gersten teaches mental fitness techniques to all of his patients and clients... from the deathly ill to the healthy athlete, to businessmen who are aspiring to greater heights. Healthcare tends to look at what is wrong. That's important, but it is a big mistake to ignore each person's areas of expertise, their hopes, dreams, passions, and sense of purpose.
It is essential to treat each person as unique without quickly labeling someone with a permanent diagnosis. People come to see Dr. Gersten. for a wide variety of symptoms, but the 2 or 3 symptoms are the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the tip of that iceberg are vast disturbances of total body biochemistry. By treating the entire “iceberg,” the presenting complaints, the symptoms, are usually improved or cured. It is not the illness that determines how someone will do in treatment. Psychosocial factors are perhaps the most important. If a person has a sense of purpose or mission, they are likely to do better in treatment. If they are optimistic, they will fare better. If they live with a sense of gratitude, they will approach treatment differently from those who live with a sense of lack. There are a variety of other psychosocial factors that are important to address. Perhaps the most important ingredient in the healing journey is the doctor-patient relationship.
It is important that people coming in for treatment have some idea of the healer's approach, philosophy, and beliefs. And it's important that, before engaging on a comprehensive healing journey, that doctor and patient feel that they are a good fit. Inspiring hope is critical to healing. By the end of the initial evaluation, that relationship ideally is well on its way. When working with a nutritional approach, it is only after the data is interpreted, that a patient begins to fully grasp that Dr. Gersten's approach is truly holistic, so people need to be prepared to look at every aspect of their life (at some point in treatment) if they are going to have maximum benefit. But healing starts with hope, belief in the healer, some belief in the healing modality, and a positive doctor-patient relationship. From that positive beginning, determination, honesty, and patience are required by both doctor and patient.
Dr. Gersten brings a wealth of personal life experience to his healing/doctor work. He is a musician, singer/songwriter (2200 songs), composer (including 3 symphonies), game inventor, guitarist, and graphic artist. Because of his passion for life, the healing arts, and music, he understands the importance of creativity in his patient's lives, the importance of living a balanced life, and the need to live with both logic and intuition. For this reason he is comfortable exploring areas of life that make life worth living.
University of Colorado Medical School, Denver
5/75 - M.D. Degree
Residency in Psychiatry (7/76 - 6-78)
University of California, San Diego
Chief Resident in Psychiatry (7/77 - 6/78)
MIND-BODY ACTIVITIES AND PUBLICATIONS
1. Publisher: “Atlantis, the Imagery Newsletter” which was printed bimonthly from 1989 — 1997. Twenty-seven of the top people in the US and Canada served as contributing editors to Atlantis
2. Author: “Alternative Health Care: Cost Effectiveness.” Prepared for and delivered to Hillary Rodham Clinton during the first White House meeting of Alternative Health Care practitioners.
3. Monthly column on Alternative Medicine for The Light Connection newspaper, San Diego, CA. 215 columns written. (see link on home page to Archived Articles).
4. Author: “From Fear to Hope: Cancer Day One.” (Pamphlet).
5. Radio talk show host for “The Open Mind,” which aired throughout 1997.
Mental Imagery Consultant on 18 books by Rodale Press/Prevention Magazine, including:
6. Chief Advisor on Guided Imagery: “Choices in Natural Healing.” Rodale Press.
7. Founder and Owner: www.aminoacidpower.com, nutritional site (1,800 pages).
8. Radio talk show host for “The Open Mind,” which aired throughout 1997.
9. Game Designer of Ziva, a consciousness-raising, information-gathering deckof cards.
10. Coach/Trainer in the mental game of golf. Worked at LPGA level.
11. Political consultant, year 2000. National level (Congress, Senate, President).
Dr. Gersten has authored more than 300 published articles.
Author: “ARE YOU GETTING ENLIGHTENED OR LOSING YOUR MIND?: A Psychiatrist's Guide for Mastering Paranormal and Spiritual Experience.” 1997 (Three Rivers Press/Harmony Books/a division of Random House). Revised Edition June, 2012 (Wisdom Moon Publishing).
Author: “The POW Survival Guide” — written for the Allied troops of Operation Desert Storm. The Guide was used by the Navy and Army SERE training programs (Survival Evasion Resistanace Escape) at Coronado, CA and Fort Bragg. “The POW Survival Guide” is now on display at the American POW Museum in Georgia.
Click on the "Healing Is About Connection" link to read this article about Dr. Gersten's approach, which was published in Kaleidoscope Magazine (a publication of Empathic Arts Institute).